Survival tactics: how to spend the night at the airport (specifically the DFW airport)

I’ve gotten pretty close to spending the night in airports, and bus stations for that matter.  But a few weeks ago it actually happened.  I was trying to catch a standby flight from the Dallas Fort Worth airport to Kansas City.  Everything was booked, booked, and overbooked.  Earliest morning flight: 7AM.  By the time I figured this out it was already past ten and, as the Dallas airport is practically a city in itself, I wasn’t particularly eager to navigate my way out of it, into another city, and back all in about seven hours.  Consensus: a sleepover at the airport.  Here’s what you gotta do:

1. Food: Remember how I said it was after ten by the time I made my plan to stay the night? Well pretty much everything in the airport closes at ten.  It’s a good thing I like vending machine food.  I found some Cheez-its at one in Terminal C by the lost and found.  Score.

2. Hygiene (see also, making Friends): This is a no-brainer.  Airport restrooms are clean and have all your basic hygienic needs: soap, water, paper towels.  As a bonus they are basically empty by eleven at night so if you’re lucky you’ll get one all to yourself.

3. Finding a place to sleep: DFW is on top of their game when it comes to comfort sleeping at the airport.  They have cots.  And blankets.  And pillows!  I dawdled around for too long and when I went to get blankets there weren’t any left.  But I did see a guy lying down on top of one blanket with another one at his feet…might not hurt to ask, right?  Turns out he didn’t want to share.  So at bedtime I pulled out some clothes from my suitcase to serve as substitute blankets, which worked fine until about two in the morning when I thought I was going to freeze to death.  I got up to go to the bathroom and blanket-hoarder still had an unused blanket at his feet!  In frigid desperation I asked again and this time he gave in!  Moral of the story: get yourself some blankets early.

4. Making friends: It feels kinda lonely when your suitcase wheels on the tile are the only sound in the terminal.  It’s nice to have people around even if they are blanket-hoarders. Actually I got pretty lucky.  In addition to the blanket-hoarder, there was also a family of four watching Matilda, which took my night from a 2 to a 7 on a scale of 10.  AND the mom lent me toothpaste (hence the reference from the hygiene section).


  1. I was stuck overnight at DFW on April 8th. I’m glad they provided some cots and a blanket. By the time I got there is was midnight and I was hungry, so I settled for a dinner of chips and a Pepsi. One of the longest nights of my life! lol

    1. Funny–we just missed each other! And yeah, I got the impression that spending the night at DFW is not an uncommon experience. *sigh*

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